Aspiring netballers across the country will get another chance to impress when the 2012 Australian Netball League (ANL) kicks off this weekend.
The ANL, established in 2008, is already successfully bridging the gap between State League competitions and the ANZ Championship according to Netball Australia’s Coach and Athlete Development Manager Carol Byers.
“It’s the best domestic competition in Australia and it allows all states and territories to compete so it gives us a really good opportunity from a national point of view to look at how our 21/U athletes are going but also the emerging talents; the 22 and 23 year olds,” Byers, also Australia’s 21/U coach, said.
“The ANL is really important to us for developing future Australian players.”
Heading into its fifth season the ANL, featuring all eight states and territories, gives athletes, coaches, umpires and officials with a pathway to the world’s best domestic competition and beyond.
A sneak peak at the brief history of the competition will show that three players from Australia’s victorious team from last year’s World Netball Championship in Singapore featured Erin Bell (NSW Waratahs), Sharni Layton (AIS/Victorian Fury) and Chelsea Pitman (AIS).
Former Victorian Fury shooter Karyn Howarth is the latest example of a player progressing from the Victorian Netball League to the Australian Diamonds via the ANZ Championship in just twelve months.
After finishing the season as ANL’s highest scorer with 318 goals, Howarth secured an ANZ Championship contract with the Melbourne Vixens where she finished the year as the franchise’s second highest scorer in her debut season and subsequently earned selection in the Diamonds squad.
“Because of the depth of talent here, our junior players don’t always get the court time at ANZ Championship level like they do in New Zealand, so it’s really important that we continue to develop and improve the league and give your young players the best possible chance to get maximum court time playing at a high level,” Byers said.
“It’s already proved to be a great stepping stone and one that has really developed our young players.”
With plenty on the line, this year’s ANL promises to be one of the best yet as ten teams, including the return of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), chase down defending champions NSW Waratahs.
The 2012 Australian Netball League kicks off on Friday 3 August in Canberra with the AIS, Canberra Darters, Western Sting, Queensland Fusion and Tassie Spirit in action in Round One.
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